Paul Manafort's Defense Team Rests Without Calling Witnesses

Lester Mason
August 15, 2018

Lawyers for Paul Manafort rested their case Tuesday without calling any witnesses, bringing a swift end to the evidence stage of his tax- and bank-fraud trial, which legal analysts say appears stacked against President Trump's former campaign chairman.

The two sides were expected to deliver closing statements Wednesday, the twelfth day of the trial, before the jury goes into deliberations.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians.

At the same time, Calk, who has not been charged with a crime but has been characterized by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator, approved loans for Manafort to the tune of $9.5 million in November 2016 and $6.5 million in January 2017, coinciding with Trump's election and inauguration, according to CNN. Defence lawyers have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they've sought to undermine his testimony.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing told Judge T.S. Ellis III about his team's decision before the court broke for lunch Tuesday and repeated it again in the afternoon to make it official in front of the jury.

The announcement came after a more than two-hour hearing that was closed to the public.

The judge on the case rejected a photo of Manafort's designer clothes as evidence.

Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor, called it "no surprise" that the defense chose not to call witnesses - and another indication that Manafort is set on an all-or-nothing strategy of trying to convince jurors that the star witness, Manafort's former right-hand man, Rick Gates, is too unreliable.

Wearing a dark suit and white shirt, Manafort stood at the lectern in court as the judge formally asked him his intentions.

Manafort, a longtime political operative who served as Donald Trump's campaign chairman in 2016, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications and concealing other financial information, such as mortgages, it's alleged. Witnesses testified at trial that Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a post in the Trump administration.

"They are all jury issues", Ellis said, explaining that he believed it should be up to the jury to decide.

It is the first case to be tried that is tied to the sprawling investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which is focused on possible illegal collusion between President Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russian Federation.

Yet Trump and the 2016 election campaign were barely mentioned during the trial.

"The plea deal that [Mueller] gave to Gates is shameful", McCarthy said Tuesday on "Outnumbered".

During testimony, Gates was forced to admit to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and conducting an extramarital affair.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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